Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

After top Google and Facebook executives met with French president Emmanuel Macron, the tech companies vowed to invest artificial intelligence resources in that country’s capital. Google will create a Paris-based AI lab focused on research into automatic learning, language and computer vision. Facebook, which already has created an AI lab in Paris, plans to double its 50-person team there by 2022 and spend 10 million euros ($12.2 million). Both companies also pledge to train that country’s citizens on digital tools. Continue reading Facebook, Google Pledge to Expand AI Investments in France

Netflix Experiences Its Best Quarter for Signing Up New Subs

Q4 2017 marked Netflix’s biggest quarter to date; the video service signed 8.3 million new subscribers. That surpasses the 6.3 million new subscribers the company had predicted, and brings the company’s total number of global paid subscribers to 110.6 million. The news boosted Netflix shares 9 percent, and put its market capitalization above $100 billion. The growth also took place during a period in which Netflix has faced more competition, from a wide range of content distributors and producers. Continue reading Netflix Experiences Its Best Quarter for Signing Up New Subs

Overwatch League, ESL, Facebook Take eSports Mainstream

When the Overwatch League debuted its first season this month, eSports fans came in droves, bought lots of merchandise and otherwise behaved like those who attend professional football, basketball and baseball games. Numerous traditional sports team owners have already invested in eSports, so when the Overwatch League was being formed, many investors were eager to pay $20 million for a franchise. Even Facebook has joined in, saying it will be the exclusive destination for multiple leagues from eSports federation ESL. Continue reading Overwatch League, ESL, Facebook Take eSports Mainstream

Amazon Opens Its Mini-Mart Minus Cashiers to Seattle Public

After testing Amazon Go, the company’s mini-mart without cashiers in Seattle, the shop opened to the public on Monday. The market is in a 1,800-square foot building, with floor-to-ceiling offerings of prepared food, potato chips, drinks and other groceries. Customers gain admittance with a swipe of their Amazon Go smartphone apps, and Amazon technology keeps track of every item each customer picks up off or puts back on the shelf. The items are automatically added up in the customer’s online account. Continue reading Amazon Opens Its Mini-Mart Minus Cashiers to Seattle Public

Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Google has revealed plans to build three underwater fiber-optic cables for ocean areas from the Pacific to the North Sea, in order to speed the transfer of data and catch up with Amazon and Microsoft. The new undersea cables are slated for completion by 2019 and will also allow Google to reroute data to servers around the globe to avoid an overloaded or failed region. Although the cables will cost a significant amount — “hundreds of millions of dollars” — Google believes the move is its only option to compete in cloud computing. Continue reading Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Advertisers Strategize Response to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Facebook launched its Watch video platform in the U.S. this summer, to increase viewership of videos on its site, and as a destination for longer-form video that stands apart from Facebook’s News Feed. In the few months it’s been live, Facebook Watch already includes hundreds of shows, including content funded by Facebook such as reality series, docu-series, a dating show and live-streaming weekly Major League Baseball games and NCAA college basketball. Now, Morgan Stanley reports on just how well Watch is performing. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize Response to Facebook’s Watch Platform

Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

FCC: End of Net Neutrality Advances Broadband Deployment

The Federal Communications Commission, which had considered lowering the threshold for broadband announced that it has pulled back from that idea and will continue to define home broadband as speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps). The FCC also created a new standard of a 10Mbps connection for mobile broadband, and won’t define mobile Internet service as a replacement for home broadband, an idea it considered last year. The decisions are good news for those concerned about the digital divide. Continue reading FCC: End of Net Neutrality Advances Broadband Deployment

New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

In 2016, a Goldman Sachs report predicted that AR/VR sales could reach $182 billion by 2025. Now, New York City, home to at least seven virtual reality centers, is committing $6 million to a 15,000-square foot space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will serve as a “hub for virtual reality and augmented reality.” The de Blasio administration says the hub will create more than 500 jobs. One of the existing centers, VR World, is equipped with a bar and dance music and lets users sky dive, rock climb or wield a samurai sword. Continue reading New York City Invests $6M in Augmented, Virtual Reality Hub

Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

For the last five years, Amazon’s average profit margins remained at 1 percent, and founder Jeff Bezos counseled patience. Amazon Web Services, its profitable cloud services business, drove shares up to $1,300, and now BMO Capital Markets raised its Amazon price target to $1,600 per share. That’s because Bezos’ end game is becoming clearer: a marketing platform that takes advantage of Amazon’s immense audience. Some analysts believe its shares could reach $2,000, making it the first company with a $1 trillion market value. Meanwhile, Amazon continues plans for its second headquarters. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Compete in Advertising, Narrows HQ2 Sites

With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

Apple plans to leverage the recently passed tax legislation, said to be the most important in 30 years, by bringing $350 billion back to the United States over the next five years. Of that, $252 billion in cash was held abroad; Apple keeps 94 percent of its total cash outside the U.S. A provision in the new tax code allows a one-time repatriation of corporate cash held in other countries. The move is consistent with Apple’s long-time stance that it wouldn’t bring the cash back until the tax code changed. Continue reading With New Tax Legislation, Apple to Repatriate $252B in Cash

Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses Win Multiple Awards at CES

At CES 2018 in Las Vegas last week, Vuzix debuted the Vuzix Blade, AR smart sunglasses that are the result of years of research and are based on the company’s proprietary waveguide technology. The glasses work via a tiny LED projector in the temple area of the glasses that shoots an image sideways into the lens. The lenses are laser-etched with dots at different depths that “catch” the projected image and illumine it in the wearer’s field of view. When the AR functionality is turned off, the glasses look ordinary. Continue reading Vuzix Blade AR Smart Sunglasses Win Multiple Awards at CES

ThirdEye Debuts Smart Glasses With Hot-Swappable Batteries

At CES 2018, ThirdEye Gen Inc. introduced its X1 Smart Glasses, which are slated for shipment in Q1 2018 and notable for their long-lasting batteries. Two hot-swappable batteries, with a combined charge of 2,400Ah, let the user pop batteries in and out for a full 24 hours. The glasses can also project an HD augmented reality display equivalent to a 90-inch screen that is 10 feet in front of the viewer. ThirdEye’s App Store also lets developers submit free or paid AR/MR apps, receiving a percentage of every download of the latter. Continue reading ThirdEye Debuts Smart Glasses With Hot-Swappable Batteries

CES Keynote: Intel Introduces New Studio for Immersive Media

At CES 2018, Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich gave a keynote address that ranged on topics from cybersecurity to immersive media and both neuromorphic and quantum computing. He also introduced Intel Studios, a site for the production of immersive media. First, Krzanich brought up the formerly undetected flaws in Intel chips, dubbed Spectre and Meltdown, saying that it was Intel’s No. 1 priority to secure customer data and noting that the industry has joined forces to plug the loopholes. Continue reading CES Keynote: Intel Introduces New Studio for Immersive Media

CES 2018: Roku Debuts Licensing Program with OEM Partners

Roku debuted its Roku Whole Home Entertainment Licensing Program, which will partner with original equipment manufacturing (OEM) partners to integrate voice search and other entertainment-related features into smart soundbars and speakers. The options for the new licensing program includes Roku Connect, a free program for its OEM partners that will enable them to build high-end wireless speakers that both connect to the Roku ecosystem and synchronize multi-rooms. A logo will identify the speakers as part of the program. Continue reading CES 2018: Roku Debuts Licensing Program with OEM Partners

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